As Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy mulls whom to tap for a congressional investigation into the deadly US Capitol riot — and whether to appoint people at all — Republicans from across the conference are racing to show they have no interest in taking on a politically fraught assignment, particularly lawmakers in difficult reelection races.
There’s even scant interest among the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump for inciting the deadly insurrection.
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington issued multiple public statements: she told reporters she opposed the select panel and later put out a formal statement making crystal clear she wouldn’t serve on it if asked. New York Rep. John Katko, who brokered a bipartisan deal to establish an independent investigation that was blocked by Senate Republicans, said he has little appetite to participate in a “turbo-charged partisan exercise.” Veteran Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, meanwhile, quipped to CNN: It’s “not on my bucket list.”
Others were equally as blunt.
“No,” said Rep. David Valadao, a vulnerable California Republican who voted to impeach Trump and backed an independent commission.
“Obviously, the politics of it is going to be very, very obvious, and that’s why I supported the commission,” he said.
The anxiety among some Republicans foreshadows what is shaping up to be a partisan brawl that could put a hefty target on their backs, either with constituents or with Trump himself — neither of whom GOP lawmakers are eager to cross. If they don’t sufficiently defend Trump, they are bound to invite outrage from the base. Yet if they deny the former President’s role in the attack on the Capitol, they will be cast as whitewashing history.
So most Republicans would rather keep their heads down as the probe plays out in the House, especially those representing more moderate-leaning districts.
Uncertainty over GOP appointments
What also remains uncertain is whether McCarthy will choose Republican hardliners, including many who voted to overturn the electoral results on January 6 or have publicly downplayed the events of that day. Some of those Republicans have signaled a willingness to serve on the committee, while McCarthy has dodged questions about whether they could win one of the five GOP spots.
Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, who was involved in the GOP strategy to try to overturn the electoral results on January 6, didn’t rule out serving on the panel, saying it “was up to Kevin” to decide whether he should serve.
“My concern is that this would be used as one more vehicle to attack President Trump,” Jordan told CNN.
It’s something of a contrast from Trump’s first impeachment, when Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee — including now-House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik of New York — were propelled to GOP stardom and became fundraising powerhouses after furiously defending the-then President.
But the lack of GOP interest in the select panel, combined with Pelosi’s final say over the selections, makes McCarthy’s job more difficult with his pool of potential selec
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